Saturday, June 27, 2009

Miyajima Part One -Omotesando -

A mere 10 minute-ferry ride from Miyajima Station will bring you to an island just off the coast of the Seto Inland Sea. That small island is Miyajima, also called Itsukushima. Chosen as one of the Nihon Sankei (Three Most Beautiful Spots of Japan), the island's beautiful scenery will surely satisfy any visitor.

As soon as you get off the ferry, turning right will first take you to Omotesando, a small shopping avenue (yes, it bears the same name as the popular fashion street in Tokyo, but of course it's something different.). There, hundreds of souvenir shops are located. Today, I'll introduce to you some of the most interesting don't-miss-sights that you can enjoy in Omotesando!

First of all, I recommend you to see the giant shamoji (rice scoop). In the 18th century, a shamoji was created in Miyajima as a souvenir for visitors and selling them helped the residents of the island economically. Ever since, Miyajima has been the most famous place in Japan for shamoji. In Miyajima today, the world's largest shamoji is displayed in the middle of Omotesando! That shamoji, also called the "Ooshakushi" (Giant Rice Scoop) is 7.7 meters wide, 2.7 meters tall and weighs 2.5 tons. It is said to have been created from a 270 year old zelkova tree, and has been placed in its current location ever since Miyajima was recognized as a World Heritage Site in 1996. The shamoji symbolizes not only the classic traditions of Miyajima, but also the hope to carry on the torch for future, making the giant rice scoop a well respected icon in the area. I'm sure you'll surely be surprised to feel how much power the shamoji truly exudes.

After left feeling astonished from the large shamoji, there is one more aspect that I recommend -gourmet!!-. First up, oysters! As you walk across Omotesando, you will see numerous shops that are grilling fresh oysters on nets and the scent that fills the air naturally attract customers! Buy one, pick it up with a toothpick and brace yourself for the great taste! Another gourmet I recommend is Anago (conger). They are also grilled on nets and are then dipped into a special sauce. The best way to enjoy it is to put them atop rice bowls and enjoy them as a domburi. You can find many anago-don diners in Omotesando as well, so don't hesitate to judge for yourself!

Omotesando is only a tiny part of the ways to enjoy Miyajima, but now that you know, it's definitely a must-visit location!

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